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Search and Rescue

This challenge is inspired by a local event, where kids are remote controlling robots through a maze like course to find a small Teddy bear, grab it (with velcro) and drag it to the start point. But is this possible to do autonomously? I'm sure it is! 

So here is the challenge: build an autonomous robot that is capable to drive through a maze like environment, find a small Teddy bear, grab it by what ever means and bring it to the starting point. The maze can be made out of card boxes, books, whatever you have handy and it should have at least 4 turns before the position of the bear and the hallways width should be at least 12". The robot shloud be smaller than 12" and can't look over the walls. You can build a 2 wheels, 4 wheels rover, biped, quad, hexapod... anything you like. No remote processing is allowed, that means no link to an external computer is allowed. You can't moddify or add anything to the Teddy bear to make it easier detectable, but you can wrap around it a velcro collar so the robot may grab it easier. Make a video of your robot rescueing the Teddy bear and post a link to it here.

The winner will be decided by a community vote, still need to figure that out how's going to happen, a poll might work, but I don't see a way to add it to the challenge.

There will be prizes available:

- a µBotino V3 kit and a USB-serial cable

- a Robot Builder's Arduino kit and a USB-serial cable

- a Robot Builder's Shield V3 kit and a mini Breadboard


Update, Sept. 26th, 2011:

Since no robot was entered by September 22nd, I have granted an extension of the end date to September 25th. Only one robot was completed by this time, by Sebathorus, so I declare it winner of the First Place. But, since there were others who expressed interest in participating, I am going to make a second extension, until the end of the month. I hope at least 2 more robots to be entered. Come on people! I've got some kits to give!


Update, Oct. 1st, 2011:

The main reason behind this challenge was the old robot builder's dream: robot, fetch me a beer. I thought to bring it to you guys step by step. First, build a robot that is able to find an object and retrieve it. Best built is with a gripper and sensors that scan left-right and look for the object. After you did wall following, try to add encoders and remember your path and after you got the object, get back on the shortest path (maze solving). Build the gripper strong enough so it can pick up a beer can as the retrieved object. Add a voice recognition module and say the magic words: Robot, fetch, a beer! My MiniEric robot can almost do that (can lift only an empty can, not a full one). Can yours?

I removed the end date for this challenge, it will be still ON until the first robot that is able to fetch a (full) beer can left on the floor is demonstrated. No maze required, just house navigating, have the beer on the floor in front of the refrigerator in the kitchen and start the robot in front of the living room couch. The robot must find it's way through house clutter. Post the video and code for the robot in your robot page here on LMR. Prize? I don't know yet, but it's going to be something in the $100 range. Perhaps something you need to have for your robots... Oh, voice recognition module is not actually required, you can just press a button on the robot. In this case, you can win a voice command module (I have 2 of them).

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I love the concept of rescuing/harvesting cute cuddly teddy bears but I feel that the rules are a bit ... loose.

I realize that it is hard to impose strict rules for a maze that every participant has to build at home, but then maybe you shouldn't judge the contest by speed.

Just assemble a "jurry" and have them score the entries based on various cirteria (speed, cuteness, dramatic effect, etc.).

Hmm, you have a good point. Perhaps we can all vote for the best robots. Yeah, that is way better, I'll adjust the rules.


... the rules are way to simple, unless you add some criteria. My cr2cX can do it without additional programming if I add a hook to it to grab the Teddy bear and design a "smart" maze.

You should add some rules about the maze so that the robots must be programmed to solve mazes and identify somehow the Teddy bear, grab it, take it to the designated point and leave it there - you could draw a basic maze that a wanderer robot will be lost in it ... but these may raise the complexity of the challenge too much.

I especially left the rules simple and loose, hard rules are more challenging, but less people will participate. The only thing I will add is that the Teddy can't be modiffied or anything added to it to detect it easier (no IR, etc, except a velcro collar).

But anything more complex in the setup/robot will make it cooler, so people will vote for it.

These rules are better, now I have some limitations to work with. I think I'll try to participate in this challenge :)

The photo of the maze you are using to describe this challenge only has 2 turns?

The es, photo is just a sample to see how the competition was run last year (2010) in Toronto, where kids were given an easy setup. They used blocks of painted 2x4s to make a course, in the past years they had 2 courses, one simple and one more complex. I did not find pictures of the more complex corses, but I'll try.

On the other hand, yes, that course has only 2 turns.

Hmm. I wonder if I can get GRAB-E's grabber working well enough to do this. A challenge is a great motivator!

Can the maze to follow a line that has four turns?

That is a different type of competition and it was done many times (perhaps not on LMR). If the robot follows a line and the Teddy is placed over the line, it's a lot easier to detect it than if the robot follows a wall and the Teddy bear just sits there on the side of the room. The robot needs to have a routine to distinguish the bear from the walls (or a camera, or...).